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New protections for online shoppers

A newly-issued decree on e-commerce which will take effect July 1 is expected to provide better protection for online shoppers and boost internet trading.

 An online shopping site. New online consumer protection decree to take effect July 1

Over the past five years, the domestic e-commerce market has been rapidly growing, but so have a variety of internet scams. The Vietnam E-commerce Association stated that Vietnam needs stronger regulations to protect consumers.

In particular, group coupon sites have raised concerns recently, with rampant online shopping fraud, including the sale of substandard products such as vouchers for food, trips and falsely discounts. Decree 57, which currently deals with online transactions and would be replaced by the new law, does not address this type of business and has left a large amount of unsolvable disputes, usually leaving the consumer at a disadvantage.

Le Thanh Phuong, a resident of HCM City, said after detecting a fake shop address, substandard goods and vague advertising, she decided to steer clear of coupon websites.

Last year, the leaders of muaban24.vn were arrested for tricking hundreds of people into a multi-level marketing scam which earned more than VND600 billion (USD28.7 million).

Managing director of the website Fresh Flower World, Nguyen Thi Thuy Vu, said, "The e-commerce business has become increasingly tough and risky because of incomplete legal framework, making for customers' reluctance."

The new decree bans online trade for businesses that make certain violations, including those that require payment to join or force members to recruit others to join and websites selling fake products or violate copyright law. Also, coupon websites must compensate customers if their products do not match what is advertised.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will also set up a portal for consumers to identify sites that have been red-flagged.

Ha Ngoc Son, an official from HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said customers are currently hesitant to make online transactions, and that the new law would hopefully go some way to boost consumer confidence.

Truong To Linh, co-founder of memua.vn said, "We need policies to protect and encourage trustworthy companies. Furthermore, managing agencies specialised in e-commerce is also necessary to raise customer awareness."


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